Where to celebrate Day of the Dead in Austin

Festive items are sold at the 32nd annual Viva La Vida Festival celebrating Dia de los Muertos, The Day Of The Dead, on Saturday, October 31, 2015. Erika Rich/Special to American-Statesman

Festive items were sold at the 32nd annual Viva La Vida Festival celebrating Day of the Dead in 2015. 
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Day of the Dead isn’t a spooky holiday. It celebrates the life of loved ones who we still miss with offerings, altars, food and music. In Austin, the Day of the Dead spirit strengthens each year with bigger festivals and celebrations honoring the dearly departed.

Although the holiday is celebrated from Nov. 1-2, the festivities in Austin start early. Here’s a look at some of the city’s biggest Day of the Dead celebrations.

The Día de los Muertos Festival, presented by the Easter Seals of Central Texas, is quickly becoming a festival to watch. Since its launch in 2013, it’s been consistently boosting its musical offerings, bringing high-caliber Latin acts including the late Tejano legend Emilio Navaira as well as Venezuelan rockers and Latin Grammy winners La Vida Bohème. On Oct. 15, trailblazing Latin music mashers Ozomatli headlines the festival at Fiesta Gardens.

The family-friendly fest includes a crafts and activities area for children, and fest-goers can bring lawn chairs and blankets. General admission tickets cost $30; VIP costs $150. Children younger than 6 party for free. Proceeds benefit the Easter Seals of Central Texas, a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for people with disabilities. Check out more details at austindiadelosmuertos.com.

Isabella Vail, 5, looks at the art at the 31st annual Viva la Vida Festival in downtown Austin on Saturday October 18, 2014. The Viva la Vida Festival is Austin's largest and longest-running Day of the Dead celebration.  The event had a parade, Latino entertainment and food, art activities and community altars.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 The Viva la Vida Festival is Austin’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead celebration.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austin’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead event, the Viva la Vida festival, expands this year with more event venues including the Frost Bank Tower Plaza for art activities and Brazos Hall for a member’s cocktail lounge, food trucks, lowriders, performances, face painting and more.

After more than 30 years, Viva la Vida knows how to throw a party. The sprawling downtown celebration on Oct. 29 from noon-8 p.m. includes a lively procession with a keep it weird attitude. Don’t be surprised to see everything from portable altars to samba dancers en route.

Mojigangas, props made of paper mache, are  marched through the 32nd annual Viva La Vida Festival & Parade celebrating Dia de los Muertos, The Day Of The Dead, Saturday, October 31, 2015.

Mojigangas, props made of paper mache, are part of the Viva La Vida festival parade. 

The procession begins at noon at Fifth Street between Interstate 35 and Waller Street and ends at the festival location at Fourth Street and Congress Avenue, where live music, vendors and costume contests will await. Visit mexic-artemuseumevents.org for more details.

Continue celebrating on Oct. 29 from 1-6 p.m. at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center with food, live music, children’s activities, artisans and dancing. The free event also includes a classic car and bike show. For updates, visit austintexas.gov/esbmacc.


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